Partnership Funding Program
 
Important Updates
  • The slides from the Feb 4/14 Developing the International Travel Trade around Georgian Bay workshop can be found here (the workshop is one element of the development of a 3 year market development plan with partners Georgian Bay Destination Development Partnership and RTOs 12 and 13a).
  • The Executive Summary of the draft Municipality of Kincardine Surfing Feasibility Study can be found here.  The entire draft document is available here.
  • The OTMPC Market Segmentation Study for Region 7 can be found here.
  • Preliminary survey results of the Tourism-Oriented Directional Signing 2013-14 Program Review can be found here.
  • As part of the Sumac Cultural/Culinary Trail project, an Experiential Tourism Workshop was held November 1, 2013.  Click here for a copy of the materials presented.
  • A summary of approved 2013/2014 Partnership Funding Projects is available here.  For a summary of Partnership Funding project procurements click here.
  • March 12, 2013: additional FAQs have been added following information sessions conducted March 6, 7, and 8, 2013. Thank you to all who attended these sessions. The info session presentation is available here.
  • March 12, 2013: a sample agreement is available for review
  • March 12, 2013: An information session/meeting for those stakeholders interested in the Co-operative Advertising opportunity (Category IV) has been scheduled for March 27, 2013 at Liberty North in Barrie from 2-4pm.  Please click here to confirm your attendance at this session. 
  • February 15, 2013: Program Guidelines and application forms are now available for download at the bottom of this page
  • Applications in this initial intake are being accepted as of Friday, March 1, 2013
  • The deadline for applications in this initial intake is Friday, April 5, 2013
  • April 8, 2013: The initial intake is now closed. As advised in information sessions and earlier communications, the target for completion of the assessment process is end of April.
  • May 3, 2013 9am-12pm: Please join us at Meaford Hall (RSVP) for announcement of successful Partnership Funding projects and other important information.

More Information:

Background
 
The program is effective for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2013. Program funding  represents new money, i.e., it is in addition to the base funding received by RTOs. In order to access this funding, RTOs must generate matching funds from partner businesses and organizations.
 
“Partners” may be private businesses, destination marketing and management organizations (DMMOs), tourism organizations, municipalities, associations, and interest groups.
 
“Partnerships” are agreements where the RTO agrees to work with one or more partners on specific projects. These initiatives must be within the RTO mandate (marketing, experience or product development, workforce development, and investment attraction), and reflect priorities consistent with the RTO’s business plan.
 
The Ministry has published Guidelines and a Q&A document that provide further information, including stipulations on the types of projects and partner funding that is eligible. (For example, while municipal funding and funding from federal sources can be leveraged, funding from the Province of Ontario can not.)
 
About the Program
 
For 2013/14, RTO7’s partnership funding allocation from the Province is $336,000.
 
In addition to matching funds from eligible partners, RTO7 will invest a portion of its base funding in projects that align with its strategic and business objectives, with the goal of achieving $1 million in joint project funding in 2013/14.
 
As detailed in the Program Guidelines, the program consists of four categories:
  • Signage: improvement of tourism experience through implementation of RTO7 Tourism Signage and Wayfinding Specifications
  • Experience Development: product development and training initiatives
  • Promotion: marketing and advertising programs
  • Cooperative Advertising: co-branded major market campaign(s) leveraged by RTO7

Frequently Asked Questions
 
This information will be updated with answers to FAQs as we receive them, so please refer back for updates.
 
Can’t find the answer to your question? It may be included on the Ministry's Q&A Document. If not, please Contact Us.
 
  1. What if we have an idea for partnership funding, but we’re not sure if it’s eligible, or how to propose it?
    
Please ask. You can contact us at partnerships@rto7.ca. If you’re looking for other partners or other support, we also encourage you to contact your local destination marketing and management organization for assistance.
     
  2. Does my initiative or project have to demonstrate a regional benefit?
    No. As outlined in the Guidelines, the initiative or project must be consistent with the objectives of the relevant program category and with this goals or objectives of your organization(s). The inherent benefit to the region is building partnerships, and helping to make the industry more competitive.
     
  3. Are joint projects more likely to be approved?
    
All proposals will receive due consideration. Where collaboration makes sense, and/or the more inclusive the benefits of an initiative or project, the more this will weigh in its favour. Private operators in particular may wish to bring ideas forward for competitive reasons and such proposals are most welcome.
     
  4. Do collaborating organizations have to contribute equally to a project in order to be a partner, and to qualify for additional funding in Category III?
    Financial contributions are required; however, they do not have to be equal. Collaborating organizations must be independent (i.e., independently owned, financed and/or managed), and must make meaningful financial contributions (i.e., relative to each organization’s capacity and means) to the initiative or project.
     
  5. How is this program different from Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport programs such as Celebrate Ontario?

    Unlike with granting programs, RTO7 will be entering into partnerships with BruceGreySimcoe tourism operators and organizations and working actively with them to help plan, execute, and to learn from the results of these initiatives.
     
  6. How involved will RTO7 be in the management of the project?
    Each partnership will be somewhat unique. With the exception of Cooperative Advertising (Category IV) managed by RTO7, we will work with the partner(s) to determine the most effective project management structure.
     
  7. How involved will RTO7 be in the execution of the project?

    As with the project management function, in each case we will work with partner(s) to determine what roles and responsibilities make sense. The starting point will be the execution plan proposed by the partner(s) – see Section E of the Application Form.
     
  8. How often will we have to report?
    Beyond a final report, progress reporting will depend on the project and RTO7’s involvement in project management/execution. Once a project is approved an agreement will be executed to document these requirements.
     
  9. Can my project be worth more than the partner funds and partnership funds combined?

    Yes. Partner(s) are welcome to contribute more funding than the amount that RTO7 is able to leverage under the program funding (matching) formula.
     
  10. What does “flow through” funding mean?

    MTCS rules preclude RTOs from paying funds to (flowing funds through to) partner organizations. RTOs must be responsible for the administration of partnership dollars so that the Province can be assured of direct accountability for these funds.
     
  11. What do you mean when you say cash funds must be remitted to RTO7, or disbursed by the partner(s)?

    For each project, RTO7 will work out with the project partner(s) whether it will make more sense for RTO7 to either (a) pay all project expenses directly (in which case partner funds will be remitted to RTO7); or (b) for the partner(s) and RTO7 to each pay project expenses to third party vendors. This will be documented in the project agreement.
     
  12. Can partnership funds be used to purchase equipment, or toward the cost of buildings or other assets?
    No. With the exception of signage, MTCS rules stipulate that partnership funds cannot be used to pay for capital expenditures.
     
  13. Why are salaries, wages, administrative, and overhead costs considered ineligible expenses?

    MTCS rules stipulate that partnership funds cannot be used to pay for fixed or other expenses that would otherwise be incurred by the partner. For example, funds can’t be used to subsidize an existing staff member’s time, or to hire additional staff, or to subsidize an organization’s operational costs.
     
  14. Would the fees of a consultant or other project resource be considered an eligible expense?

    Yes. The business case for the proposed resource and expected costs should be outlined in the proposed execution plan and budget.
     
  15. Will procurement have to be conducted for third-party vendors? Can we use existing vendors, suppliers or agencies of record?

    This depends on the scope of the project, nature of the service, whether an existing vendor was procured through a competitive process, and the anticipated cost. RTO7 will identify requirements for procurement and discuss these with the partner(s) as part of the initiative or project agreement.
     
  16. Will we be able to review the project agreement?
    Yes. A sample draft agreement will be posted soon on this page (see below).
     
  17. How many applications may my organization make?

    As outlined in the Guidelines, for the initial March 2013 intake a maximum of three applications will be accepted from any one organization (independently and/or in collaboration with other partners). If there are remaining funds to be allocated, another intake will be announced (i.e., early to mid-2013).
     
  18. Our organization (municipality, etc.) is in a position to act as a funder to multiple projects. Will we still be able to apply for funding for projects of our own?
    The maximum number of applications that will be accepted from any one organization (independently, or in collaboration with other partners) is three. If your organization is identified as a partner on an application, and is therefore planning to be responsible for or actively involved in that project, then that  project would count toward this limit. There is however no restriction on the number of projects you may fund otherwise. As a funder, it will be up to you to make appropriate arrangements directly with the funded organization regarding accountability for your support.
     
  19. If I submit more than one application, is it possible that more than one may be accepted?

    Yes. Each application will be considered on its merits.
     
  20. Can a tourism business or organization from outside BruceGreySimcoe apply for partnership funds?
    Yes, so long as the initiative or project goals and outcomes are consistent with and demonstrate a clear benefit to building, sustaining and/or growing tourism in the region. If for example a provincial association or other group were to apply, we would be looking for strong support and involvement from relevant BruceGreySimcoe stakeholders.
     
  21. If my initiative or project is accepted, how soon will we be able to start?
    Funds from the Province will be available to RTO7 as of April. Our goal is to finalize agreements for approved projects as quickly as possible following the April 5th initial intake deadline. This should enable projects that are time-sensitive to commence by May 1/13.    
  1. Can expenses be incurred prior to project approval/kickoff?
    Only expenses incurred after April 1, 2013 are eligible. The eligibility of expenses incurred prior to the execution of a project agreement is not guaranteed and will depend on the nature of the expense relative to the approved project scope and budget.
  1. What if we don’t have the minimum recommended contribution or conversely, if our project is larger (more costly) than the maximum proposed contribution?
    As outlined in the Guidelines, each application will be considered on its merits. Recommended contribution levels are suggestions designed to ensure that projects benefit from sufficient funding to ensure meaningful outcomes. If your idea and/or access to funds falls outside these parameters, it will be considered.
  1. Will applications be approved on an “all or nothing” funding basis?
    No. As stipulated in the guidelines, funding will be provided up to the specified levels. If your initiative or project is approved but it is not possible to fully fund it, RTO7 will propose a lesser amount of funding.
  1. What if we have a promise of funding coming, but no cash in hand?
    Projects with confirmed funding will logically take precedence. However, we recognize that in some instances access to other funding may be contingent on approval of your partnership funding application. If this is the case, you should detail any such contingency in your application so that we can give it due consideration.
  1. The deadline for initial intake applications is April 5/13.  What if our project won’t take place until next winter, or early 2014? 
    A deferred start date is fine. We expect there will be sufficient applications in this first intake to use 100% of available funding. Organizations are therefore urged to submit their applications at this time.
  1. Can we use funds from an organization that is provincially funded, or is this considered an ineligible source of funds?
    As long as that organization’s funding does not come exclusively from the Province of Ontario, it would be considered an eligible funder. One exception to this would be if the funding provided to you by that organization is tied directly from a provincial source, grant or program.
  1. Can we apply under partnership funding for a project for which we may also receive funding from another provincial program, such as Celebrate Ontario?
    Yes, provided that the funds you plan to contribute come from an eligible source. You should detail other sources of provincial funding in your application to ensure we understand how all partnership funding will be utilized within this context.
  1. How do we determine whether our organizations are considered separate for the purposes of submitting applications? For example, if we are a BIA that is funded by a municipality that may also be applying for partnership funding?
    Organizations that operate autonomously through their own legal, corporate and/or governance structure will be considered stand-alone entities.
  1. What about different departments of a municipality – are these considered separate organizations?
    No – as per the response to the preceding question, these departments are part of the same corporate entity.
  1. Are joint projects with other RTOs eligible?
    Yes. RTO7 is open to joint projects, however each RTO has their own structure for partnership funding so it would be important that you verify this with the other RTOs. As a reminder, funding secured from an RTO cannot be used to leverage partnership funding from another RTO.
  1. Are projects spanning more than one year eligible?
    Yes. Although the Guidelines indicate otherwise, MTCS has clarified that initiatives or projects spanning more than one fiscal year can be funded. How the project is funded for this intake will, however, still be determined based on RTO7’s funding formula for 2013/14.
  1. What role will the RTO7 board of directors play in the application review and approval process?
    To avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest, RTO7 directors have recused themselves entirely from involvement in this process.
  1. How will we know what projects have been approved?
    A formal announcement will be made, and a list of all approved initiatives or projects will be published on the RTO7 web site.
  1. Will you provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants?
    Yes.
  1. What happens if you receive similar or complementary applications for similar initiatives or projects from different organizations?
    RTO7’s mandate is to encourage and support collaboration. Where there is obvious potential for collaboration (for example, between not-for-profits) we will encourage the partners to do so. An example of where this might not be the case would be where private businesses are involved.
  1. Will any competitive information about our business we submit in support of our application be treated as confidential?
    Yes. However, bear in mind that if your initiative or project is approved it will be subject to public disclosure in accordance with RTO7’s accountability to the Province for public funds. Please refer to the sample agreement below for more information.
  1. Is web site development eligible for funding, or is it a capital expense?
    Web site or other digital development related to communication or marketing of your organization is eligible under Category III – Promotion.
  1. When will decisions regarding appications for the initial April 5, 2013 intake be communicated?
    As indicated during March information sessions, our target for completion of this first assessment is the end of April. All applicants will be contacted, and as noted above a formal announcement will be made and a list of all approved initiatives or projects will be published on this site.

Sample Partnership Funding Agreement

 

As detailed in the Program Guidelines, upon approval of the initiative or project, organizations will be required to execute a project agreement (enter into a formal contract with RTO7) specifying the particulars of the initiative funding and respective roles and responsibilities towards its execution.

A sample project agreement is provided here. Please note this is a sample only and may be subject to change.

Potential partners will note that the sample agreement specifies that RTO7 is ultimately bound by the provisions of Schedule "A" of its Transfer Payment Agreement (TPA) with the Province, and that accordingly a copy of these provisions will be made available to parties to the agreement. This document is also available here.
 
Guidelines & Forms
 
Note: Application forms are provided in MS Word format; depending on your browser you may or may not be prompted to save the file, so check your destination folder (e.g. downloads) if it does not open, or right click on the link to select a target folder.

Program Guidelines (PDF)
Program Application for Categories I, II & III
Cooperative Advertising Application for Category IV
 

This page is updated regularly. Please check back for the most current information.